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31 July 2022

Novel: "Henoko Bar, Stars and Stripes" Chapter 4 "Raise your hands and dance Kacharsi"

In Henoko, Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture, shaken by the issue of the construction of a new U.S. military base, a female singer time slips to the time in the midst of the Vietnam War. What is the Henoko New Base Problem? What is the Vietnam War? What is America? What is Okinawa?


A short story in 9 chapters. Each chapter features famous songs from Japan, the United States and Okinawa.


Please read from Chapter 1



Thinking about having a beer before playing something, Naomi headed to the counter. Then there was a very young Black man. He was more of a boy than a young man. He's younger than the American soldiers here. And he was not a pure Black boy. It's a mixture of Black people who seem to have Asian blood mixed in.


"Come on, Nee-san (Young lady)," he greeted her with a normal Japanese.


She wondered if he was an American who spoke good Japanese. And when she looked at him closely, she thought it was a familiar face somewhere. It was a face she had seen somewhere, just recently.


"Hey, Kenny, how are you doing?" Jimmy talked to the Black boy.


She got it. Diet member Mr. Miyagi, Kenny. He was a member of the National Assembly who was reported on the TV news as a likely candidate to succeed the will of the previous governor in the upcoming gubernatorial election. But the Kenny in front of him was much younger than Kenny Miyagi she knew. The face of a dignified politician had changed into a very adorable boy. He looked like a junior high school student or a high school student. Maybe he was Kenny's son. But she thought it was weird a father and son shared the same name.


"Hey, Nee-san (Sister), you have a Sanshin instrument, are you going to play something?" said Kenny.


"Yes, well," Naomi said with an expression that couldn't hide her surprise.


"I play the Sanshin too, because this instrument is our soul" said Kenny.


"That's right," Naomi said. Somehow, Kenny looked cute. He was a really cute boy. Who the hell is he?


Then an American guy approached and spoke up to Kenny. He was one of the U.S. soldiers in this bar besides Jimmy. He was about the same height as Jimmy with a blonde hair.


"Hey, Niger, this is where you shouldn't be entering, get out."


What a rant. is a pejorative term for Black people in America.


"No, I work Here, I'm Okinawan” Kenny replied in English. Kenny had a rag in his hand and was wiping down the counter table.


"Tony, don't get stuck," Jimmy said. The blonde young man seemed to be named Tony.


"You Yankee don't know," Tony said.


"Yankee? Jimmy, where are you from and where is Tony from?" asked Naomi. A Yankee means an American in the North.


"I'm from Chicago, and Tony is from Mississippi," Jimmy replied.


Indeed, Naomi understood that because he came from the conservative southern state of Mississippi, there was a strong sense of prejudice against Black people. But isn't it too bad for these days?


"Who are you?" Tony asked Naomi, who was wearing a shoulder strap attached to the instrument.


"I'm from Tokyo," she replied in English.


"Hey, Black Okinawan and the Jap woman," Tony said.


What a vile man. She felt like getting a little drunk and rowdy.


"We're Americans, our country is the strongest country in the world. We own Okinawa. It's the best country in the world," Tony said in English with a Southern accent.


America owns Okinawa? Okinawa is the territory of Japan. It's true that there were a lot of U.S. military bases.


Kenny said to Tony. "Not true, Okinawa is occupied by the US, but it is still part of the Japan. And Okinawa belongs to the Okinawans. It's not American," Kenny said in English. Does "occupied" mean that there were many U.S. military bases on the island? Naomi thought.

Then she said to Tony.

"America is such a great country? Is there anything to be proud of?"


"The whole world longs for America, they imitate American culture. This is also the case here. You're using the culture that the U.S. created," Tony said proudly, and Naomi frowned.


"Oh, after all, American culture is just a copy of European culture, it's just a carbon copy of the culture brought in by European immigrants."


Naomi said what she thought from her experience in Europe.


"What? Aren’t you listening to American jazz and rock?"


Tony said blushing. Then Kenny said,


"Jazz and rock were created by Black people from Africa mixing with European music, so they were not original to the United States," he said glaring at Tony.


"Hey, a cheeky like you is just a jerk in my hometown of Mississippi."


Tony said, glaring back. Then Jimmy said,


"No. You can’t be racist if you are American. You are wrong. You know the Civil Rights Act enacted a few years ago," taunting Tony.


"What's wrong with a law like that, what's wrong with discriminating them," Tony said.


"It goes against the ideals of American freedom and democracy. The idea of democracy is that all human beings should be equal and free. Both President Kennedy and Dr. King fought for it and enacted laws banning discrimination."


Jimmy said emphatically.


"Both Kennedy and King got killed because they did things like that, because they did weird things," Tony said.


"No. US has fought for it. Our parents fought against the Nazis who wanted to conquer Europe. With the Japanese army that invaded China and attacked the US, and we won. We're fighting to save people who are tormented by invaders who do brutal things on others based on their arrogance against others," Jimmy replied, and Tony fell silent for a while. Then,


"Unlike you, I volunteered to go to Vietnam," he said.


"Oh, yes, you did. I was drafted. I think it's an important duty," Jimmy said.


"I’m a proud United States Marine, I’m going to be like my big brother," Tony said.


"Joe, oh, everyone's hero. Right now, he’s fighting on the front lines in Vietnam. He's the best soldier with extraordinary strength and decorated a lot of medals. Everyone’s a role model," Jimmy said.


"Oh, a true warrior for freedom and democracy. I will be like my brother Joe. It's just like GI Joe," Tony said in a shouting voice. G.I. Joe was an American antique toy doll that was modeled after a military man.


"Yes," Jimmy and a few other U.S. soldiers around him responded.


Neither Kenny nor Naomi could keep up with the American military-like conversation, but for the time being, the tension in the room seemed to ease. Is this how Americans do?


Kenny talked to the master at the counter. Then Kenny said to Naomi.


"Hey, Sister, try playing something by Sanshin and singing, you seem to be good at singing," Kenny said.


"Sure, I do" she replied.


She went on stage as if she was being led by Kenny. She decided to sing the freshly learned song "Tinsagu no Hana. (Phoenix Flower)" She wondered if the American soldiers would understand. She sang while playing the intrument.

"The phoenix flower is something that dyes the fingernails.


The teachings of our parents are ingrained in our hearts."


"The clusters of stars in the heavens can be counted if you count.


There are countless teachings from our parents ."


"Ships crossing the ocean at night are marked by the North Star.


For us, parents are a landmark."


Of course, the American soldiers did not know the meaning of the lyrics, but her beautiful voice and the smooth melody played by the Sanshin captivated them at once. She thought it was too quiet for the energetic young people, but it seemed to have won their hearts firmly. Jimmy approached the stage.


"Bravo, beautiful," he shouted with applause. Other soldiers also applauded.


Good, Naomi thought. Kenny then asked, "Hey, hey, can you sing Kacharsi?"


"Oh, to tell you the truth, I just learned it, I can’t play like Tinsagu no Hana, though I've learned a song," she said, smiling and expressing her regret at not being able to respond to requests.


"So I'll play, will you sing and dance?" said Kenny.


"I just have to sing and dance," Naomi said.


"Yes." Kenny said.


"Ok," Naomi said, handing the instrument and claws to Kenny. Kenny tied the instrument with his shoulder straps, clawed at his fingers, and immediately began to play Sanshin.


Kacharsi's up-tempo rhythm reverberates. He’s used to playing it and it's good.


Naomi performed the kacharsi dance she had learned from her grandmother and approached the microphone and began to sing. Dancing is very easy. Raise your hands, raise your fingers, and rotate your hands in all directions. Naomi thought she was going to lure them in, and she said.


"Raise Your Hands, and Dance with Me."


The U.S. soldiers were initially stunned, but Jimmy imitated Naomi’s dancing right in front of the stage, raising his hands and dancing Kacharshi together with Naomi. Then the American soldiers in the bar got tangled up and raised their hands and started dancing. It went into party mode all at once.


カチャーシー, Kacharsi means "to stir" in Okinawan and just as it means, the inn owner Obaa told her that it is a dance unique to Okinawa, dancing while stirring hands. The song was called "唐船ドーイ, Tang Ship Doi", which is representative among Kacharsi.

Tang Ship Doi Santeman


Isan-ran (ba) eh Nana Shiya


Wakasa Town Village Nu Senanami Nu Tanme


The meaning is "It's a ship from the Tang Dynasty! and the one who doesn't run at a glance is the grandfather of Senaba in Wakasa Township," but none of them make sense. Since the purpose is to dance, you don't have to worry about the meaning of the lyrics. It is also common to the lyrics of Spanish flamenco.


As Naomi sang the lyrics, Kenny, who played Sanshin, interjects, "Iyasa, Iyasa, Sa, Sa," in the background of the voice.


All of them continued to dance over and over again. All the American soldiers in the bar were engrossed in the dance. It was noisy, but it was in a very high-spirited and good mood.


Naomi looked at Tony at the counter. When Naomi started dancing, he was drinking and didn't seem to mind, but now he was dancing together. He was not a bad guy, she thought.


Two hours later, all the U.S. soldiers had returned to the base, the bar turned silent, the master had entered the office room, and Kenny and Naomi sitting tired on stage alone.


"I had a wonderful experience tonight, the American soldiers can enjoy Okinawan music."


Naomi said, still feeling tired.


"Thanks, actually, I didn't even know how to deal with that situation. I wanted to change my mind."


Kenny said about Tony.


"It's terrible, really, racism. It's still very strong in America."


Naomi reminded herself of President Trump and the white conservatives in America who supported him.


"It's terrible here, too, because I've been bombarded with people every day since I was a kid like slurs such as mixed specie or Black boy," Kenny said.


"That's right," Naomi said. She was well aware that Japan is not in a position to criticize the United States.


"But I love Okinawa, where I was born and raised, and Okinawan music. Right now, Okinawa is still under the control of the United States, but if it were to return to Japan someday, I would like to eliminate the U.S. military bases and become a person that I can be even more proud of as Okinawans. It doesn't matter what color your skin is, it is about yourself as Okinawan."


Naomi stammered as Kenny said. After all, She didn't think she was in this bar in 2018. She asked casually.


"A lot of U.S. soldiers from Okinawa are going to Vietnam."


"Oh, and they're killing innocent people, it's like we're being made to cooperate with that," Kenny said.


Naomi only had the simple knowledge about the Vietnam War which she learned in school history course and some history shows on TV. Vietnam was divided into north and south, and the United States started a war in cooperation with the south, but was defeated. She’s heard that not only soldiers but also many civilians were killed.


"Jimmy and Tony are going to Vietnam to do that," Naomi said.


"Oh, they say freedom and democracy are important, but in other countries they push through their own selfishness. Ever since Okinawa was lost in the war and occupied, they have been stealing land to build bases and using us as stepping stones. We have no rights here. It's a colony just to be trampled on. Racism seems to have been banned in the United States, but in Okinawa, bars where American soldiers use are divided between whites and Blacks. It's hypocrisy to do different things inside and outside their own country."


Tony's narrative didn't seem to be very acting, he seemed to tell the real story. After all, am I in Okinawa in the midst of the Vietnam War era? Before Okinawa reversion to Japan.


Naomi asked Kenny as she suddenly noticed a board on the wall of the bar.


"What's on the board with all those dollar bills pinned down?"


"Oh, it was left as a memorial by American soldiers heading to the battlefield. It seems that it is also a wish to write the name on the bill and pin it and get it back if they come back alive."


Kenny said.


"In other words, if they are killed in the battle, bills will be left alone," Naomi said.


"Well, I guess we're going to see more and more dollar bills on that board," Kenny said.


"Somehow, I pity them," Naomi said.


"People in the mainland like you may think so, but it doesn't matter to us, they're the ones who are stomping on us. It's fine if you can use it to make money," Kenny said simply. Even in his uncanny youth, he showed an indescribable toughness. If he was Miyagi Kenny, who could also be that governor, it was a premonition of that.


"Yes, hey, there's a song that people in Okinawa which you should know. There's a song about the Japan Reversion Movement in Okinawa. We don't know how long this will last, but it's a song with the thought that we’re going to get out of it eventually," Kenny said.


Naomi was taught the song and lyrics of the song by Kenny. The title is "Bring back Okinawa."


After that, Naomi decided to leave. it's too late. She wondered what was going on outside of this bar? Last night was back in 2018, but will the same phenomenon occur? Thinking of that, Naomi pulled her phone out of her pocket and viewed her smartphone screen. What she noticed on the screen was that the radio waves were out of range. In Henoko, she could use a smartphone anywhere. It was strange.


Then she activated the camera.


"Hey, what's that, mirror?" asked Kenny.


"Yes, yes, if I have to fix makeup, I’m tired and look terrible," she said, pointing the lens at Kenny and took some pictures of him and interior of the bar, too. The photos were saved as data on her smartphone device.


"Thank you, Kenny, tonight, it was fun. I'm leaving. Oh, and give my regards to Master. I'm the singer of the show, but tell him I'll come here to sing in my spare time."


Naomi said, putting the shoulder straps of the Sanshin over her shoulders and she walked to the entrance door of the bar.


"Thank you, hey, see you soon. Goodnight," Kenny said.



Naomi said, opening the bar door and stepping outside. It was the same scene of Henoko Village as when she entered. It was dark and quiet in the middle of the night in the village, and there was only the light of the street lamps. Behind her was a wall of the bar with a fading picture of the Stars and Stripes.


Naomi just came up with something and went back to the entrance door, turning the doorknob, but the door was locked as expected. She just left, so it was very strange the door was locked right away.


Oh, she found had forgotten something. She hanged the instrument, but still Kenny held the claws to play the strings.


Naomi knocked on the door and shouted, "Kenny, Kenny." There was no reaction at all. After all, the inside of the bar is another world. What a strange phenomenon.


Go on to Chapter 5

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